Michelle Obama's visit to New Haven

Lisa Burns

First Lady Michelle Obama visited New Haven on Thursday, Oct. 30, to rally local Democrats.

"Given how close many of the congressional and gubernatorial races are, it's not surprising to see Michelle Obama hitting the campaign trail in support of fellow Democrats," said Lisa Burns, a professor in the School of Communications, who wrote the book, "First Ladies and the Fourth Estate: Press Framing of Presidential Wives." 

"First ladies are a big draw, especially when it comes to fundraising events, which is what Mrs. Obama appeared at in New Haven," Burns said. "Events featuring Laura Bush were among the top fundraisers for Republicans back in 2008. While some candidates were distancing themselves from President Bush because of his low approval ratings, they were happy to have Laura campaign on their behalf because her approval ratings remained very high throughout her husband's tenure. Michelle Obama is in a similar situation. While her husband's approval ratings hover around 40%, hers are still around 60% according to a CNN poll conducted last May. Bringing in the first lady is a great way for candidates to raise those important last-minute dollars to pay for TV spots. But it also gets supporters excited about voting and encourages them to turn out on Election Day. What's particularly interesting here is that both the president and first lady are campaigning for a gubernatorial candidate. Usually their focus is on congressional races, so their appearances in Connecticut show that the Democrats consider the state to be a vital player not only in state-level policy making but also in the 2016 presidential race." 

Burns earned her doctorate in communications from the University of Maryland at College Park, as well as an M.A. in rhetoric and bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Duquesne University. Professor Burns teaches courses including Media History; Media Analysis & Critique; Sports, Media & Society; Political Communication; and Media Industries & Trends. Her research interests include media history, political communication (particularly media coverage of U.S. first ladies and presidents), public/collective memory and media criticism. She is currently working on a book on presidential museums and public memory. 

To arrange an interview with Burns, please contact John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, at 203-206-4449 (cell) or 203-582-5359 (office).

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